Major League Baseball
Preview
Houston at Kansas City
When: 8:15 PM ET, Friday, June 24, 2016
Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel doesn't have fond memories of the last time he faced the Kansas City Royals, and the results of this season haven't exactly put a smile on his face. The reigning American League Cy Young Award recipient will look to rediscover his form on Friday as the visiting Astros carry a five-game winning streak into the opener of a three-game series versus the Royals.

Keuchel outdueled Edinson Volquez en route to winning Game 3 of the 2015 AL Division Series, but yielded a three-run homer to Kendrys Morales in the eighth inning to spell doom in the set's decisive fifth game. Morales is 8-for-20 in his career versus Keuchel and enters Friday's tilt on an eight-game hitting streak for the Royals, who had won eight of nine before dropping both contests of the World Series rematch against the New York Mets. While Kansas City enjoyed a breather in its schedule on Thursday for the second time in four days, Houston showed no signs of slowing down by posting a 20-8 mark after a sluggish start to the season. Marwin Gonzalez belted a go-ahead triple in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels and is 7-for-22 with a homer, three RBIs and five runs scored in the six games since he took over at first base.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston), FSN Kansas City

PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (3-9, 5.32) vs. Royals RH Edinson Volquez (7-6, 4.12)

Keuchel entered Saturday's tilt with Cincinnati with three straight losses and a 1-8 record in his previous 11 outings, but exited the contest with optimism after allowing just two runs in seven strong innings of a no-decision. While the performance thrilled the fans at Minute Maid Park, the 28-year-old hasn't been doing much on the road this season with a 2-6 mark and a gaudy 5.91 ERA. World Series MVP Salvador Perez enters Friday's contest with five homers and 22 hits in his last 13 games, but is just 1-for-12 with three strikeouts versus Keuchel.

Volquez owns a 6-0 record with a 2.70 ERA in nine career regular-season starts versus Houston, but yielded three runs and four walks in 5 2/3 innings in the Game 3 loss. The 32-year-old Dominican enters Friday's contest with a two-game winning streak, although he permitted five runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 frames of a 16-5 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Volquez would be wise to keep a keen eye on Carlos Gomez, who is 9-for-31 with three homers in his career against the right-hander.

WALK-OFFS

1. Kansas City has won 12 of its last 13 home games to improve to a blistering 25-8 at Kauffman Stadium.

2. Houston 2B Jose Altuve has hit safely in five straight and 24 of his last 26 contests.

3. Royals 3B Cheslor Cuthbert homered in Wednesday's 4-3 setback to the Mets for his sixth hit in five games.

PREDICTION: Royals 3, Astros 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Houston 37-36 W5 22-15 15-21 7-9 9-7 13-16 8-4
Kansas City 38-33 L2 25-8 13-25 8-8 21-11 5-8 4-6
Last Meeting
Houston Kansas City
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
4/14/16 KC 6 HOU 2 .172 1 .536 .333 1 .837
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Houston J. Altuve .471 8 1.526
Kansas City E. Hosmer .471 8 1.000
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Houston J. Altuve 2 6 4
Kansas City L. Cain 1 3 3
Pitching ERA Avg K
Houston 3.25 .246 27
Kansas City 3.60 .271 42
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Houston J. Altuve .343 97 .976
Kansas City E. Hosmer .305 82 .862
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Houston G. Springer 15 49 41
Kansas City E. Hosmer 12 39 44
Pitching ERA Avg K
Houston 3.98 .241 623
Kansas City 3.95 .273 574